We were inspired to create Hotline Helper from the major technological gap we saw between developing countries and first-world countries. We wanted to limit this gap by making data equally available for all people.
What it does
Hotline Helper is a service that allows anyone around the world to call Hotline Helper's phone number and receive news and sports information. This means that the caller can obtain this information without any internet connection and without any power if using a wireless phone.
How we built it
Hotline Helper is built using Node.js with Twilio function events for the main structure of the service. The web scraping tools were created with Python, which obtains top news articles and summarizes them as well as obtaining entire match commentary for soccer games. We also provide this service for different languages, such as Spanish and French, thanks to Microsoft's Text Translation API.
Challenges we ran into
Some of the biggest challenges we ran into were using Twilio with Azure and GitHub as source countrol. Our updates to GitHub often wouldn't sync properly with Azure and Azure required us to install all of the project's dependencies for each function we created.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
One accomplishment we're proud of is getting Twilio to read text in different languages as well as say custom text retrieved from an API.
What we learned
We learned how to using Node.js for the first time as well as how to create, manage, and manipulate phone calls using Twilio.
What's next for Hotline Helper
One key feature we weren't able to implement was a Medical chat tool to help diagnose someone based on reported symptoms. This provides incredible utility for people without easy access to doctors in order to get an idea of possible illnesses. Our main vision was to build this as a featureful voice assistant, and that's the ultimate end goal for the product. We have proven out concepts for basic features, and we think this displays the potential. One could imagine an interface with many different topics and information; any audio or text content that's not easily accessible without the internet.